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Emile Heskey and Carlton Cole at England Football Learning's International Player to Coach Programme at St. George's Park

The second cohort of England Football Learning’s International Player to Coach Programme met at St. George’s Park to engage and learn with each other alongside members of The FA.

Emile Heskey, Jack Wilshere, Jermain Defoe, Leighton Baines and Stewart Downing are part of this year’s group embracing the development opportunity which looks to help participants build interpersonal skills and broaden on-pitch experience through a mixture of practical workshops and strategic resources. 

The high profile and innovative programme has a flexible structure tailored to the individuals’ needs, and takes into consideration their commitments and responsibilities while challenging and shifting thinking from that of an elite player to one of a coach and manager. 

Last week’s sessions at St. George’s Park saw The FA’s Head of Player Selection and Talent Strategy Steve Morrow spend time sharing insight and personal experiences with the group, before England Manager Gareth Southgate joined to talk about his own journey from player to coach and life at The FA.

Steve Guinan, Senior Professional Game Player to Coach lead for The FA said of the programme: “We’re keen to encourage our former international players who have an unbelievable amount of knowledge and years of understanding and playing at the top level, in European championships and World Cups, to get involved in coaching and management. We believe we can widen their skill sets and opportunities to potentially lead teams in high profile positions.

We’ve had two national team coaches join us today with Steve Morrow and Gareth Southgate and we’re really fortunate to get that national team input and insight from some of the best coaches and practitioners in the world, here at St. George’s Park which we feel is the best training facility in the world. The environment created here is the best-in-class, and it’s great to have the previous cohort like Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney show the opportunities available and we hope these coaches will follow in that trajectory.” 

Stewart Downing, former England international and Premier League winger added: “I feel really privileged to have the chance to speak to people like Gareth Southgate and hear the insight he can give to us. As a coach he’s even better than when I played for him, with the stuff he’s learned in the years after, he’s been absolute class. And to begin my coaching development journey alongside players I’ve competed with is a special learning curve, and I’m really excited for what the future holds for us.”

For more information on the range of learning opportunities offered for anyone wanting to be involved in the game from grassroots level and beyond, please visit our courses page.

Watch the highlights from the session at St. George's Park here: